The deployment of 5G technology in Africa could have a huge impact on economic growth in the next decade. According to the General System for Mobile Association (GSMA) the GDP of African countries could grow by 0.7% by 2034. This translates growth of around $5.2 billion.
Deployment of 5G to spur economic growth in Africa
The economic growth that sub-Saharan Africa will experience is a result of innovative services stimulated by the deployment of 5G technology. Deployment of this latest technology presents numerous growth opportunities for Africa. Despite this presenting huge prospect it nonetheless requires the establishment of necessary infrastructure for it to succeed. For instance, the GSMA indicates that leveraging this huge potential will depend on the accessibility of vital radio frequencies. As a result, this should include the “millimeter wave” frequencies that will aid in delivering ultra-high-speed and capacity services.
The GSMA indicates that the continent has a chance to define its digital economy but that will depend on the deployment of 5G spectrum. Africa will get an opportunity to identify it at the 2019 World Radio Conference (WRC-2019). The conference is taking place in Egypt between October 28 and November 22, 2019.
Akinwale Goodluck, GSMA’s head of sub-Saharan Africa indicated that deployment of a 5G network will be a huge milestone for Africa. Currently, mobile operators are aggressively expanding their 4G internet connections across the continent. As a result, this is an opportune moment for African governments. They should lay the groundwork for the deployment of 5G by identifying the required spectrum at the conference.
The roll-out of the latest mobile tech and services has transformed the lives of several people in Africa. The advancement has enabled communities to leverage wired infrastructure as well as embrace the digital age quicker and effectively. Communities have enthusiastically embraced it faster as compared to most developed countries.
5G deployment has numerous capabilities
Therefore deployment of 5G will build on earlier generations and bring new capabilities that will boost economic growth. A combination of 5G deployment and mmWave spectrum will give rise to an opportunity for low-latency. Equally, it will open up opportunities for data-intensive applications that will transform a wide range of sectors and use cases.
The technology will be valuable to new applications that can transform Africa’s transport logistics network, seaport, and other transport hubs. Also, it could become vital to other sectors such as the oil and energy sector as well as the mining sector. Enhancing the transport infrastructure in seaport logistics implies that 5G has the potential of driving growth in the trade sector.
Applications of 5G mmWave have the capability of coordinating the movement of products as well as remotely control essential machines. As a result, this will lower the cost of port operations and also make them efficient thus enhancing trade. Similarly, deployment of 5G could make manufacturing and extraction activities safer and cost-effective. This is achievable through the high speed and the ability of remote object handling.
Identification of the 5G mmWave spectrum will happen during the WRC-19 conference. So far over 3,000 delegates are attending the conference from 190 countries to agree on the use of the spectrum. Interestingly European nations are planning to limit the spectrum’s usage due to claims of possible interfering from space services.
However, these are unfounded claims since studies have shown they can coexist. Independent research supported by Africa and allies in the middle east and the Americas has shown that the tech can coexist. The study demonstrated that 5G and weather-sensing services, as well as commercial satellites and other space services, can coexist.
Nigeria taking steps in readiness to deploy 5G
Some African countries such as Nigeria are already taking necessary steps in readiness for deployment of 5G from next year. So far, Nigeria has reserved three spectrum bands that are the 26 GHz, 38 GHz and 42 GHz. They plan to try the technology in Lagos as well as in other regions. However, in terms of policy and regulations, they are not ready but at least these are signs of progress.
There are however concerns regarding support for 5G deployment. Lack of sufficient support during the conference could derail deployment for at least ten years. As a result, this can slow economic growth as well as delay innovations.
Goodluck indicated that the conference was an opportunity for the continent to secure the mmWave spectrum to spur digital growth. It will be vital for the deployment of 5G in the future. The GSMA Is calling for regulatory authorities in various countries to support the identification of the 5G spectrum at the conference.